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Make With Chicken

Sitha Thor’s aunt Bee Xiong contributed the most samples to his research. In her home in Appleton, Wis., home are two tables covered in plants. The bigger, older plants are planted in their own containers; the smaller plants and sprouts are individually planted in Styrofoam cups. Bee learned her gardening ways from her parents in Laos, a skill she hopes she can pass to her own children.

as told to Emily Kaegi

Bee Xiong 
Bee Xiong, Sitha Thor's aunt.

The herbs that are usually used with meat, my parents always had and used them and that’s how I learned. The chicken medicine is used as a way to prevent post-partum depression. You just eat chicken and those herbs and rice for that full month and that’s used to prevent illness in the future. We believe that even when you’re old, you will have less illness to the body if those herbs are taken during that month. I teach my children to take these after birth. I also have other kinds that are good for coughing and wheezing that are used with chicken and works too. The plants are good for when my kids are ill or have a fever. Because those herbs are very bitter, one way to consume them, or to tolerate consuming them is by mixing  the herbs with chicken.

I have four to five kinds of herbs. Usually every container has one different one, but because there are white diseases that overcome the plants, they died, so I don’t have as much as I used to. The ones that can tolerate snow, I still have those, but those that can’t tolerate snow, I try to bring them inside. In the summer I take them outside, but when it gets to be around October, I bring them inside. Those plants are usually prepared with roots and using meat [and] I also have some chicken flavoring, usually mixed together for more flavor.

My plant reminds me of times like when my parents, or my mother, would plant a garden with these types of herbs. It makes me miss that place. In the past, we never had to bring these inside. They could always be outside in a garden area and they would almost survive all the time.

When I was a child, my brother was hunting for bird and climbing a tree at the same time and he fell from the tree. He fell from about midway. When he was walking home, he couldn’t recognize where his home was. People asked, “Why aren’t you going home,” and he replied back, “I forgot where my home is.” That’s when I saw my mom use a plant from a forest nearby. She just went and picked it up and made it with chicken, and my brother got better.

I have an aunt whose son is always afraid. It was a young man that couldn’t sleep or was afraid of sleeping alone. She used the leaves from the Los Hws Kis plant, which is used when you don’t feel confident or if you are afraid of something, like ghosts or the devil. She put it with a pillow and that was much better for him. It worked for that boy.

I teach, especially my older ones, how to plant for themselves. This is very important because each chicken meal is used with herbs. They don’t seem to want to learn, but when they want to consume it, they ask me to get them ready or prepare that for them.